February 17, 2016: A deadly avalanche that killed ten Indian soldiers earlier this month on the disputed 20,000 foot high Siachen glacier in Kashmir received extensive coverage in the Indian and Pakistani media. The avalanche prompted some commentators in both countries to call for an early settlement of what seemed to them and to many others (including ourselves) a senseless dispute.
Their voices were largely drowned out in India by an outpouring of patriotic fervor that cast the dead soldiers as “Bravehearts” who had died for their country. The Indian Defense Minister publicly dismissed pleas that both sides pull back from the 47-mile long glacier where they have confronted one another since 1984. Possibilities for a settlement seem remote.
January 27, 2016: For diplomatic old-timers like us, Sahibzada Yaqub Khan was both a legend and a central part of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship we both worked on for years. His death at 95 leaves the world a poorer and less colorful place. We will let others write about his storied career – scion of the princely house of Rampur in central India, Lieutenant General in the Pakistan Army, ambassador to the United States, the Soviet Union, and France, and several times foreign minister of Pakistan. What we would like to share are some stories that illustrate the talents and high professional standing of the unique gentleman we knew.
January 21, 2016: Voluminous reporting filed by political correspondents in key battlefield states suggests that South Asia has not figured in any meaningful way in this year’s contests for the Republican and Democratic presidential nominations. GOP frontrunner Donald Trump has not offered to build a beautiful wall along the Line of Control separating Indian and Pakistani forces in Kashmir. Nor has his closest rival, Senator Ted Cruz, called for the carpet-bombing of the Pakistan Taliban, let alone of the Maoist Naxalite guerrillas in eastern India. Neither Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton nor her Republican opponent Carly Fiorino has claimed that in seeking to become the first U.S. woman to preside over the White House she is following in the Continue reading “South Asia in the U.S. Presidential Primary Season”
This year’s publications include five noteworthy books on South Asia. Sanjaya Baru’s The Accidental Prime Minister paints a close-up portrait of Manmohan Singh and Diego Maiorano’s Autumn of the Matriarch dissects the decline of Nehru’s congress and the rise of a more de-institutionalized party in the last years of Indira Gandhi – interesting contrasts to today’s Modi government. Bidisha Biswas takes a close look at how India has tackled internal conflicts in Managing Conflicts in India. Andrew Small’s The China-Pakistan Axis is the first serious study of this fascinating relationship. And Samanth Subramanian’s This Divided Island is an intimate look at Sri Lanka’s war and its aftermath, told in unforgettable vignettes.
October 26, 2013: Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif came to Washington on October 20-23 determined to create a new beginning, personally and politically, with the U.S. leadership. The U.S. government wanted to bring Pakistan into closer alignment with U.S. goals and strategies as the time for U.S. combat troops to leave Afghanistan approached. The two sides left some important matters unresolved or papered over, most significantly differences over future U.S. drone attacks on Pakistani territory. But they did develop a personal and political framework which may help them make further progress while managing remaining differences more effectively. It would be an exaggeration to claim that the summit solved the serious problems in U.S. – Pakistan relations, but its strong focus on the economic relationship did start to place attention on some aspects of the relationship where Pakistan is not treated simply as an extension of the Afghan problem.